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CHP Changes Findings in Fatal Cycling Accident Investigation

Results of the investigation could impact the lawsuit filed by the cyclist's family.

California Highway Patrol announced today that it has revised its assessment of a between a big rig and a biker that took place last November on Alpine Road.

A month after the accident, the investigation team cyclist was to blame for the accident.   

After reviewing the data from the initial report, conducting a forensics analysis, and reconstructing the events that transpired that day, CHP Spokesman Art Montiel says their findings have changed.

“It has been determined the big rig truck and bicycle came into contact with the left front portion of the truck colliding with the right rear portion of the bicycle, while the bike was still in an upright position,“ Montiel said.

The family of the cyclist from Los Altos Hills, Lauren Ward, has against the truck driver who was at the wheel of the big rig that killed her, saying that his previous involvement in a fatal accident should show precedent for reckless behavior.

For the past 10 months, the ability to determine who was at fault during the incident rested on the results of the investigation, which was primarily conducted to sort where the cyclist and the driver were immediately before they collided.

The family's attorney could not be reached for comment by publication time.

commuter September 15, 2011 at 10:57 PM
So the bicyclist is no longer to blame? Or does the court have to decide that? Sounds like the new police report is saying the truck ran down the bicyclist from behind.
Vanessa Castañeda September 19, 2011 at 12:10 PM
I have photos that were never published that suggest this. The courts ultimately decide who is to blame for the accident, now that the family has sued.
Getsoonr September 20, 2011 at 07:08 AM
Vanessa- please, please, please post the photos you mentioned. Can you tell us why you think they suggest that the truck ran down the bicyclist from behind? I live just past that exact location, and I drive and cycle by it almost daily. I am sickened by how the investigation was handled and that the victim was blamed for causing the accident. Obviously she could not defend herself against the accusation and tell her side of the story, and I cannot help but wonder about the quality/integrity of the investigation of the fatality in 2007 involving the same truck and driver and the Santa Cruz teacher he killed. Did you give your photos to the investigators?
Vanessa Castañeda September 20, 2011 at 01:49 PM
I haven't given them to investigators. The family's legal team reached out to me, and we began a conversation about sharing information. But either I or they went out of town or something and the discussion ceased. (It was a while ago, so I can't recall.) I declined to post the photos in question at the time, after I thought about how it would impact the family members. I've been on the other end of a situation like this, so I weighed the public benefit of putting rather gory photos out there where anyone with an internet browser could find them against the emotional turmoil that a family member would feel upon viewing these images. "Do we really need a whole slideshow of a gory accident scene to show people why Alpine Road is closed down?" I asked myself. I decided to only post the ones that illustrated the story, rather than the ones that churned my stomach. There's a photo of a clean up crew member spraying down the undercarriage of the big rig at the scene that's pretty revealing. Do you think that publishing it would be a real benefit to the public?
Angela Hey September 25, 2011 at 04:33 AM
One should note that at the time of the accident the sun would be right into the driver's eyes - has anyone looked at the angle of the sun at the date and time of the accident.

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